Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Mitochondrial DNA reveals phylogenetic structuring and cryptic diversity in Australian freshwater macroinvertebrate assemblages

Andrew M. Baker A C , Jane M. Hughes A , John C. Dean B and Stuart E. Bunn A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology, Centre for Riverine Landscapes, Griffith University, Nathan Campus, Qld 4111, Australia.

B Environment Protection Authority, Freshwater Sciences Unit, Ernest Jones Drive, Macleod, Vic. 3085, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 55(6) 629-640
Submitted: 12 March 2004  Accepted: 7 June 2004   Published: 14 September 2004


Freshwater catchments of south-east Australia possess generally rich and diverse macroinvertebrate faunas, although the genetic structuring of these assemblages is poorly known. In this study, we assessed mitochondrial phylogenetic structure within four genera of macroinvertebrates from the Sydney Water Supply Catchment, south-east Australia: Euastacus (parastacid crayfish), Cheumatopsyche (hydropsychid caddisflies), Atalophlebia (leptophlebiid mayflies) and Paratya (atyid shrimp), with a view to prioritising areas of high diversity for future conservation efforts. We found extremely divergent (≈4–19%) cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) lineages within all surveyed groups, many of which corresponded to recognised taxa, although there was also evidence of cryptic species within three genera; Euastacus, Atalophlebia and Paratya. Distributions of these three genera were associated with high altitude streams, above dam impoundments. Our results have important implications for management of the Sydney Water Supply Catchment. Future disturbance in this region is likely to be high and priority should be directed towards preserving the diversity of fauna in these upland areas. This comparative phylogenetic approach may have value as a means to focus and direct conservation efforts in other areas supporting high biodiversity.

Extra keywords: Atalophlebia, Cheumatopsyche, cryptic diversity, Euastacus, mitochondrial DNA, Paratya, phylogenetic.


We thank Keith Crandall for use of his unpublished Euastacus sequences, Arlene Wheatley for unpublished Sclerocyphon data and Jemma Somerville for laboratory work. Peter Davie kindly provided access to Queensland Museum Euastacus specimens. James Fawcett, Mia Hillyer, Amanda Kotlash, Martin Krogh, Tim Page and Simon Williams provided invaluable field assistance. This research forms a component of a large project on connectivity of macroinvertebrates in the SWSC, funded by the Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology.


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